It has been famously said that “Youth is wasted on the young” (it is still argued who said it and exactly how, between Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw). While I’ve heard this quote for years, I’ve never quite understood what it meant until now.
As I write this, I’m sitting at my desk with a cup of coffee, it’s 6:30 am – I have to be at work in two hours, and I just returned from a weekend on Orange Beach (I got in around 9 last night) for Hangout Fest. I’m sticky with aloe from a legit sunburn, and of course, I’m exhausted.
But something has been on my mind since before I even left for the weekend. When I was prepping for the trip, I was at the Dollar Tree to get essential festival items: glow bracelets, glitter, travel packs of Kleenex, etc. I came across a clear “4th of July” aisle that had light up red and blue star necklaces, American flag sunglasses, and a pair of white fairy wings with little red and blue glitter stars on them.
I snapped a picture and sent them to a fellow festival goer, asking her if she wanted a pair for the festival – they were only a dollar, and I thought they were so cute.
She wrote back about an hour later, saying “Pretty sure I’m too old to be wearing fairy wings.”
My shoulders sank. Is that where we’re at now?
In years past, the festival has brought more than just fairy wings to the public – there have been full on bear suits, body glitter from head-to-toe, traditional Indian head-dresses, and many-a-mermaid garb in trade for standard swimsuit cover-ups.
Fairy wings wouldn’t flutter an eyelash on the block for Hangout Fest.
But it wasn’t really about the gauzy wings, it was about the spirit of the whole thing. That’s why I love Hangout Fest above choosing other festivals near its kind.
I enjoy many of the same things at Hangout that I enjoyed as a kid: the beach, cheers from carnival games, indulging in guiltless corn dogs, glow bracelets, body glitter, and meshing colors that wouldn’t be accepted at my day job. Add adult bank accounts and an I.D. to drink, and you’ve pretty much created paradise.
Age, in a place like Hangout, is not issue. Perhaps you have your “Hangout” – whether it’s Disney World or a year ’round Christmas shop, or maybe just a great park on a sunny day.
But if we’re not willing to wear “fairy wings” – whatever those are for you – then what’s really the point of all this? Are we ever too old to just have fun?
On my long drive home yesterday, I thought about things that I’m legitimately too old for – like Children’s Tylenol (and thank God, because that shit is so gross), and living with my parents (although debatable, because there are circumstances where I’d consider this okay)… so, what are we really too old for?
Sure, there are things that change as we age; I can’t skirt a hangover, I usually don’t get to sleep in, and my back pain rivals that of a senior citizen’s.
But will I ever be too old for a trip to the county fair? Will I ever not find joy in eating fresh watermelon on a summer day? Will I ever not feel a little rebellious seeing a midnight movie on a weeknight?
I sure hope not. Not to dwell on fairy wings, but if we can’t stop and have a little fun, have a light-hearted spirit, then why on earth would we work so hard?
I left the Dollar Tree that night without the fairy wings, because I thought that single person would make fun of me. But today? Today I can’t stop thinking about them; and about how important it is to take ourselves a little less serious, and stop judging those around us. It makes us too hard around the edges.
So, I’m going to stop by the store this week and get myself a pair. Maybe I’ll wear them to a parade, some other festival, or maybe I’ll just wear them to the grocery store – because I’m not too old for fun.
I hope I never am.